DOJ: News Release

State Solicits Comments on Draft Upper Clark Fork Restoration Work Plan

HELENA – The state is seeking public comment on draft funding recommendations for projects designed to restore the Upper Clark Fork River Basin, Natural Resource Damage Program specialist Kathleen Coleman said today.

The Governor’s Trustee Restoration Council has recommended that 12 grant proposals receive funding totaling $14,889,448, subject to certain funding conditions on some of the projects. The Council did not recommend funding the KT Ranch Restoration Project.

“This is the most competitive grant cycle we have had to date. All but one of the projects have been recommended for at least partial funding,” Coleman said.

The 13 proposals are:

Project Recommended Restoration Funding
Milltown Bridge Pier and Log Removal $262,177
Milltown/Two Rivers Recreational Facilities and Access $2,663,749
Silver Bow Creek Greenway $2,336,914
Big Hole Transmission Line – Year 3 $2,666,618
Moore Acquisition $142,500
Peterson Ranch Conservation Easement $334,125
Warm Springs Ponds Recreational Improvements $82,989
Anaconda Waterline – Year 8 $1,988,478
Bird’s-eye View Education Project $172,946
Butte Waterline – Year 9 $2,684,747
Paracini Pond Acquisition $1,184,205
Restoring Fish in East Fork Rock Creek $370,000
KT Ranch Restoration Project Not recommended for funding
Total Recommended Funding $14,889,448

The 30-day public comment period on these recommendations, detailed in the 2009 Draft Upper Clark Fork River Basin Restoration Work Plan, runs through December 11, 2009.

Written comments may be sent to the Natural Resource Damage Program, P.O. Box 201425, Helena, MT 59620-1425, faxed to 444-0236 or e-mailed to nrdp@mt.gov. Comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on December 11, 2009.

“It is important that the public have the opportunity to comment on these proposals and funding recommendations before the Governor makes his final decision,” Coleman said.

Based on the comments received over the next month, both the Advisory Council and Trustee Restoration Council will make final funding recommendations to Gov. Schweitzer, who is expected to make his funding decisions in December.

The state sued the Atlantic Richfield Co. in 1983 and settled several portions of the lawsuit in 1999, receiving $215 million. About $130 million from that settlement is earmarked to restore or replace the injured natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown Dam near Missoula. In 2008, the state concluded its lawsuit receiving an additional $68 million dedicated to restoration in the Basin.

The Natural Resource Damage Program within the Montana Department of Justice administers the grant program. Program staff and the Upper Clark Fork River Basin Remediation and Restoration Education Advisory Council reviewed this year’s proposals and made recommendations to the Governor’s Trustee Restoration Council. That council —made up of the governor’s chief of staff, the attorney general, the directors of the state’s three natural resource agencies and the chairman of the advisory council— approved the draft funding recommendations that are now subject to public comment. To date, 90 projects have been approved for a total of $67.8 million.

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